— febrero 9, 2016 a las 9:04 pm

Latin America will promote public policies to fight hunger in the region


Parlamentarios de 17 países de América Latina asumieron el compromiso...

Parliamentarians from 17 Latin American countries committed to use their legislative powers to comply with the “Plan for Food Security, Nutrition and Eradication of Hunger of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) for 2025”, which aims the elimination of hunger in Latin America: even though the number of people suffering hunger in the region has decreased by more than half, there are still 37 million people left with little to nothing to eat, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Over 60 legislators participated in the sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean that took place in Peru between the 15th and 17th of November. The event resolved around the problem of hunger in the region, as the congressmen and women considered unacceptable the levels of malnutrition (obesity, overweight, undernourishment) in Latin America.

“It is no possible that in our Latin America, while having a huge quantity of food available, 37 million people are still dying from hunger; and that, paradoxically, most of those that go without food are also the ones producing the food that nourish 80% of the households”, according to Maria Augusta Calle, coordinator of the Parliamentary Front against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Parliamentarians of Africa and Asia have also shared their experiences. “There is a lot of interest in Asia and Africa regarding the processes and achievements of Latin America, to learn from those experiences and reduce hunger in those continents”, explains Marcela Villarreal, director of the FAO Office for Partnership, Advocacy and Capacity Development.

Targets to eradicate hunger

For three days, the representatives for Latin America discussed the contributions of each country to the implementation of the Plan ECLAC 2025 and highlighted the necessity to legislate on the subject of food security, to help small-scale producers, not only to reduce hunger, but also to contribute to the struggle against poverty.

John Preissing, representative of FAO in Peru, stressed out the importance of having food standards in the national legislations: “There needs to be well-organized strategy, legislation, budget and programs. So, the most important to start with is a political commitment and laws that will support the improvement of food security and nutrition”.

Metas para erradicar el hambre

Furthermore, members of the civil society demanded for the countries to have laws that ensure the alimentation and public policies that protect the small-scale agriculture, considered the main source of alimentation for the population.

Giovanna Vásquez, from Oxfam in Latin America’s GROW Campaign, signaled that the Plan ECLAC was the legal framework that will govern the design of the public policies on food security in the region but that, in many cases, the governments are unfamiliar with it. Vásquez added that this situation needs to change.

Peru and the Law on Food Security

The Peruvian Parliament just recently adopter the Law on Food Security (N° 3981) that aims at recognizing and protecting the right of all the Peruvian people to access a healthy and balanced diet. However, the Fujimorism, in the person of Congresswoman Martha Chávez, requested a review and asked for a qualified vote, thus preventing the presentation of the Law to the Executive power; this Law has already been discussed in Congress for four years, and on two occasions the Congresswoman has hindered – though reviews – the process, blocking the adoption of a legal framework that would ensure the adoption of national and sectorial public policies on this issue.

Due to the political manoeuvre of the Fujimorism, the Law on Food Security is still in the hands of the Congress. The president of the Congress, Luis Iberico, and the members of the Parliamentary Front against Hunger, presided by the Congressman Jaime Delgado, after committing to the promotion of public policies to guarantee food security and sovereignty in the sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, should take on the challenge to “unblock” the Law.

The next step is for the Executive Power to regulate the Law so that the State can encourage and create conditions that involve social and economic progress, especially in the poorest regions of the country, as four and a half million people are still living in a state of food insecurity.

Y el siguiente paso es que el Perú

The Vice-President of the Republic, Marisol Espinoza, acknowledged that 70% of the food that is produced in the country is the product of family-farming. “The law is important because it guarantees and promotes the small-scale farmers; the challenge is to incorporate them in a more competitive production, to ensure that the poorest sector can enter a productive circuit allowing them to leave poverty behind, that’s the objective of this law”, she said.

“I hope that the Law is not blocked and that they regulate it as soon as possible. I trust that it’s what will happen”, said Espinoza.

For Carlos Díaz, organic producer in Lambayeque, the adoption of the Law on Food Security is something positive, but he remains vigilant to its regulation: “The adoption of this law is very good for us, but we are waiting for its ratification because it’s something that we, the small and medium-scale farmers that have always been marginalized, have been hoping for”.

In this same line, the representative of the Peruvian Parliamentary Front against Hunger and congressman, Jaime Delgado, considers that with this law, a set of guidelines is emerging and will ensure that the State really commits to protecting the food security of the Peruvian people. It will also help and stimulate the small-scale farmers that produce 80% of the food on our table”.

Honduras took a step for rural women

It is important to highlight the role of women in cultivating the land all over the world. They are producing more than half of the food we consume. Rural women in this Central American country access to less than 11% of the credit at national level, 8 of every 10 rural women in Honduras do not have lands of their own to cultivate, 6 of every 10 live below the poverty line. This is why the step that the National Congress took with the approbation of the Law for the National Solidary Credit Program for Rural Women (CREDIMUJER) is vital to improve the agricultural production and help more than two million rural women.

The proposal was born out of the initiative of 28 organizations advised by Oxfam, UN Women and the National Institute for Women (INAM), and was approved on the last 30th of September in the Honduran Parliament. “CREDIMUJER was unanimously adopted by the Congress of the Republic and shows that as a society we can build harmonious consensus with high social impact”, said Yadira Bendaña, one of the parliamentarian that supported the legislative proposal.

Yadira Bendaña

Likewise, the Honduran member of congress David Reyes expressed that CREDIMUJER was a project born to give back their dignity to the people and to cast the light on the value of the women’s work. “When you invest in women, you invest in the most valuable person for the administration of household resources”.

With this law, we plant a seed and we hope that, in the budget for 2016, it will be taken into consideration to offer help to a larger group of women farmers”, said Elvia Argentina, parliamentarian of Honduras.

There is a clear commitment from various Latin American countries with the fight against hunger, but it will not be enough if it doesn’t go hand in hand with budget and political will from the governments, going well beyond legislating of nutrition and food security.

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